A 14-year old girl with special needs was allegedly raped at school after a teacher’s aide persuaded her to act as bait to catch an accused sexual predator, a fellow student, “in the act”.
According to CNN, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education filed an amicus brief Wednesday supporting the victim’s family’s federal lawsuit against the Madison County School Board in Alabama.
An amicus brief is a legal argument offered to the court by someone who is not a party to the case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta will decide whether to accept the argument.
According to the brief, school administrators knew the student had an extensive history of sexual and violent misconduct and were aware of the substantial risk he posed to other students.
About a week before the alleged rape, Sparkman Middle School vice principals Jeanne Dunaway and Teresa Terell received a complaint that the boy had inappropriately touched a female student and assigned him in-school suspension.
June Simpson, a teacher’s aide at the Huntsville-area school, told the principal, Ronnie Blair, that the boy had “repeatedly tried to convince girls to have sex with him in the boys’ bathroom on the special needs students’ corridor”. Simpson recommended the boy be “constantly monitored” and Blair said the boy could not be punished because he had not been “caught in the act”.
According to the brief, on January 22, 2010, the boy approached a 14-year-old girl with special needs who had already declined his propositions for sex. When the girl told Simpson, the teacher’s aide encouraged her to meet the boy in the bathroom, where teachers would be positioned to’ catch him in the act” before anything happened.
Simpson and the girl went to Dunaway’s office to explain the plan. Dunaway “did not respond with any advice or directive,” according to the brief.
The girl declined initially, but eventually agreed to the plan. But instead of meeting in the bathroom as planned, the boy told the girl to meet him in a bathroom in another part of the school.
According to the family’s attorney, the girl tried to fight him off, but ultimately, the boy anally raped her and no teachers were there to intervene.
The girl’s father filed the federal lawsuit in October 2010 against the boy, the three administrators, the teacher’s aide and the Madison County School Board.
The lawsuit alleges that the teacher put the student in this position because of the school policy, which violated Title IX.
Title IX is a federal law aimed at ending sexual discrimination in education. In part, it dictates how schools that receive federal funds must respond to claims of sexual harassment.
It is my sincere hope that the victim in this case is able to have her day in court and that the school board and school officials are held accountable for failing to protect a special needs student from a known danger.